Scorsese’s 1990 popular crime/drama follows Henry (late Ray Liotta), a member of the Irish-Italian mafia, and his two unstable friends Jimmy (Robert de Niro) and Tommy (Joe Pesci) as they advance beyond petty crimes to violent murder.
“I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve experienced this epic cinematic masterpiece,” Spielberg wrote of the director’s Goodfellas in a new essay for Variety.
The Jaws director argued that “there are no background performances” in the film, claiming De Niro, Pesci and Liotta as “one of cinema history’s greatest acting ensembles”.
“It’s no longer a guilty pleasure to sit for 2 hours and 26 minutes,” Spielberg continued, “but rather a master class for any aspiring filmmaker who wants to see a breathtaking balancing act of multiple storylines, timelines, shocking violence and violent humour.”
Spielberg praised the movie for its “intoxicating energy expressed not only through its masterful editing” but also by “the greatest needle-drop score since American Graffiti” and “the best spoken narrative since” Double Indemnity.
“Everyone has a favourite Scorsese picture,” he acknowledged. “And this is the one for me.”
The 80-year-old Scorsese has made at least 89 movies over the course of his decade-long career, but only The Departed (2006) has earned him an Oscar for Best Director.
Recently, unfavourable comments made by the renowned director in 2019 once again sparked an ongoing debate about the legitimacy of superhero films as art.